Zipbox® Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Zipbox?

Zipbox is a combined folding carton and resealable pouch. Zipbox employs a resealable pouch instead of traditional flaps to close the top of the container.


Does Zipbox have an inner liner?

No inner liner/bag is needed. Food-grade coatings applied to the carton interior help ensure product freshness.


How does Zipbox keep products fresh?

Zipbox employs carton sealing configurations that have been proven to be effective with a wide range of products over many decades. One approach being offered is the same design used for aseptic beverages; it protects the product and keeps contaminants out. The flexible Zipbox top is sealed to the top of the carton using traditional heat and pressure.


How is the Zipbox manufactured?

Regular folding cartons become Zipboxes after the printed sheets are formed and glued at the box manufacturer’s facility. While still flat, the cartons are run through a machine, design and built by Zip-Pak, that attaches the film/zipper component (Zipflex™). Then, just like traditional cartons, the boxes are bulk packed and shipped to facilities (CPG or contract packager) for cartoning.


How are Zipboxes filled?

Zipbox production at 100 units/minute has been validated on the ITW Hartness International cartoning line. Please visit http://www.them.net/packaging-blog/ to see a video of the Hartness cartoner running 100 Zipboxes/minute.


What is required to change Zipbox sizes on the cartoner?

Size changes on the Hartness are “tool-less” and fast.


What kind of barrier properties are attainable with the Zipbox?

Zipbox barrier levels are designed to meet the individual moisture and oxygen requirements for each product application through a variety of standard board and film laminations.


What is the consumer reaction to the Zipbox?

Tests conducted to date have revealed strong, positive consumer response to Zipbox:


  1. 2009 Harris Interactive Online Study:
    • Resealabel
      • “Like that it would be easier to close and stay closed”
      • “Keeps me or kids from spilling”
    • Stores well
      • “Box for stability, zipper for freshness”
      • “I think a good name would be zipbox”
    • Direct fill…
      • Removes inner pack (sustainable)
      • Provides dispensing (convenience)
  2. 2010 Consumer Product Group Studies:
    • In late 2010 two Consumer Product Groups conducted In-Home Use Tests
    • Zipbox was one of several variables tested by consumers.
    • Zipbox rated at or near the top…
      • Easier to use than the control.
      • Compact footprint addresses storage.
      • Shape, re-sealability, elimination of inner-pack key differentiators.
  3. 2011 Insights Event*:
    • On the shelf, visual
      • “I like the smaller size box for storage”
      • “Combines the best of a flat bottom for storage and a zip seal for maintaining freshness”
      • “I feel there would be less spillage with this design”
    • In-home usage
      • “The top pull strip was easy to pull off”
      • “I like the pour spout…easy to pour”
      • “The zip lock worked well”
      • “Seems easy to store…definitely easier than a bag”

*Conducted by Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions (PTIS)


What are the economics of Zipbox compared to existing secondary packages?

Zipbox is an affordable package innovation when considering total cost of materials, production and shipping. Zipbox is less expensive on a total cost basis than canisters and pouches because it fills at carton speeds and offers better cube efficiencies. Cube efficiencies translate into more packages/pallet, fewer trucks, reduced energy consumption and related efficiencies throughout the entire manufacturing/filling/distribution channel.

In comparison to bag-in-box cartons (traditional cereal package, for example), size reductions can be attained when the liner is eliminated allowing corners of the carton to be filled efficiently. Depending on the bulk density of the specific product, this can result in 10-40% size/source reduction along with associated economies.


What are the first steps I should take if I’m interested in packaging a product in the Zipbox?

There is a fully operational Zipbox R&D facility operated by T.H.E.M. in Marlton, NJ. This facility typically takes the Zipbox project through short runs while decisions are made on optimizing subsequent production via in-house (client) or outsourced facilities. Fitness for Use parameters, addressing a wide range of product requirements, are established and tested for each product application.


What happens if the project requirements are very large?

The Zipbox supply chain is capable of supporting mass commercialization following the determination of specifications, establishment of lead times, order placement.


What is the IP status of Zipbox?

Zipbox is being marketed, beginning in North America, on a global basis. Patents pending U.S. and abroad.


What are the cartoning options for Zipbox?

Customers and the Zipbox supply team will assess and determine the feasibilities and economics of tapping existing lines vs. having new cartoners supplied on a project-by-project basis. Once this detailed information is developed, the best decision can be made. A number of global OEMs have already been qualified to manufacture Zipbox cartoning lines in the anticipated range of 100-150 units/minute depending on the product. The first working prototype is expected to be completed in September, 2011.


How can I compare my current packaging costs and operations to Zipbox?

The Zipbox supply team has developed models and data to facilitate such comparisons from an initial to a highly detailed perspective. Key factors include: – Size and cost of current pouch/carton/canister from a material standpoint – Fill speeds – Cube efficiencies – T&W costs through the entire manufacturing/distribution cycle


What is the expected reaction of retailers to Zipbox?

Initial discussions have revealed broad-based positive response to Zipbox because: – Carton graphics are already proven. – Shelf efficiencies are excellent in comparison to round or elliptical footprints. – Cartons don’t easily fall over. – Bottom design eliminates leakage and potential for infestation. – Cube efficiencies offer value throughout retailer distribution.

What is the environmental impact of Zipbox?

Every product application must be analyzed in detail in order to reach a definitive answer to this question. Zipbox offers:

  • A. Source reduction potential (eliminates liner and potential to fill carton corners) in comparison to cartons with liners
  • B. Cube efficiencies and associated reduction of pallets, trucks, fuel, carbon footprint in comparison to pouches and canisters
  • C. Recyclable where facilities exist (www.recyclecartons.com)
  • D. Carton recyclable after separation from Ziptop

Why wasn’t Zipbox available sooner?

Most companies in the packaging industry focus on one major material, whether that is paperboard, flexible film, or aluminum. T.H.E.M.’s founding principle is to identify the best combination of materials to satisfy a given application. Our position is not, “Which is better, the pouch or the box?” The real issue is, “How can the unique attributes of cartons and reclosable pouches best be combined to satisfy key brand and consumer objectives?”


What are some other examples of innovation that T.H.E.M. has introduced?

T.H.E.M. is best known for transferring and introducing Sanko stick packaging technology to North America. This success is particularly valuable as the mass commercialization that ensued helped establish the “go to market model” (strong supply team, U.S.-based development center, full systems integration approach, relationships with contract packagers, ability to hand off for scale-up) that is being employed for Zipbox.